Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Dare

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Dare

Article excerpt

He, who could take no drugs; she, who could take no alcohol, a nineties version of Jack Sprat and his wife. She stashes liters of water in her house near the various places they might end up making love: by the glass doors opening out to the patio, behind the living-room couch, on the bedside table. The second night, her knees ground into the carpet, she wondered how they'd keep on with this - no drink, no mood alterations to blur edges, loosen the tongue of depression flattened in their mouths. It's the lithium, she says, apologizing for her constant thirst. It's also the touch of nicotine on his tongue, the sweat she breaks even in winter in her poorly insulated house, the fear of risking her manageable loneliness on him. Neither of them has ever lasted more than a year, and as the months pile up like snowdrifts, she grows more and more afraid. When he told her the stories of the shooting galleries in Juarez, cruising dark downtown streets on Christmas Eve looking for enough to get through another holiday, the last time ever in his sister's bathroom, shaking and sick, she felt the vicarious thrills fleshing out her literary past. De Quincey bored her, but there was the poetic nihilism of Anna Kavan, the spleen and ennui fighting over Baudelaire, even the repulsive attraction of Bukowski's down-and-outness. …

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